The introduction of the USAF’s first swept-wing jet fighter the F-86 in the early stages of the Korean War, came as a direct response to the Communists equipping fighter squadrons with their new and deadly Mig-15s.
The Chinese Mig-15 was a radically new design and both its speed, manoeuvrability and firepower left the UN’s largely turbo prop ground support aircraft such as the British Sea Fury, Australian advanced P-51’s and the USAF Skyraider, hopelessly outmatched. The introduction of the F-86 Sabre was to change all of this in little over a month.
By the later stages of the Korean War, the USAF’s F-86 Sabre had well and truly turned the tide but the Pentagon, still embarrassed at being caught flat footed by the Mig-15s arrival, began to wonder what the next series of Soviet and Chinese jet fighters might achieve.
Whilst the Mig-15 and the F-86 Sabre had impressive acceleration, were both still confined to sub-sonic speeds and with the Cold War between the Soviets and the West cranking up, what might the USAF be facing just around the corner?
With this in mind, orders were placed with North American for a new super-sonic jet fighter and work quickly commenced on the design and testing of a highly advanced aircraft using the successful F-86 as a starting point.
With the more powerful P&W J57-P-39 engine and an afterburner thrust of over 15,000lbs, the F-100A Super Sabre featured an elongated, streamlined fuselage and a swept-back wing of 45 degrees - some 5 degrees more than the F-86.
The F-100A’s wings were also much shorter and whilst still having ailerons
and auto leading edge brake slats, they had no flaps.
Instead, a large, single-piece dive brake was installed under the belly of the aircraft. The tail fin had also been shortened further to reduce drag.
It was a sharp, clean and incredibly streamlined aircraft which went supersonic on its maiden flight but its pilot’s had sever reservations on its safety, largely due to its ‘hot as hell’ landing characteristics.
Supersonic flight was still in its infancy with the US test pilot Chuck Yeager’s record-breaking sound barrier flight having only taken place a few years earlier. Aeronautical engineers and designers were having to deal with a whole new range of flight anomalies which threatened to tear a super-sonic aircraft apart in mid air unless overcome.
The F-100A was no exception and a number of inexperienced pilots lost their lives or had to eject from the aircraft due to structural or mechanical failure.
Amongst the US military test pilots, there quickly became the belief that the F-100A’s high landing speed played a critical role in many of it’s early accidents.
With no wing flaps, there was no real way to significantly reduce its speed on approach. If a pilot ever had to carry out a powerless ‘dead-stick' landing following an engine fire, even North America’s own test pilots believed the aircraft would be lost.
Competition was already fierce amongst test pilots and with rumours of the new space agency NASA, looking for astronauts amongst the test pilot fraternity, a challenge of ‘it can’t be done’ was all that was needed.
On his first research flight for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NSCA), test pilot Scott Crossfield attempted a F-100A dead-stick landing to prove everyone wrong.
After a perfect runway approach and touchdown Crossfield was still frantically trying to reduce speed, as his F-100 ran off the lakebed, across a roadway, up the ramp and through the open doors of the NACA hanger.
Just managing to avoid the NACA’s parked fleet of aircraft and with no emergency braking power left, his aircraft crunched into the hanger wall puncturing it with its nose. Chuck Yeager was later reported to proclaim that whilst breaking the Sonic Wall was his, the Hanger Wall was all Crossfields!
Successive versions of the F-100 underwent constant modifications to improve performance and safety but it was not until the introduction of the F-100D, which underwent significant redesign and engineering, that many of its early flaws were finally resolved.
The F-100D’s wings were increased to provide greater lift along with the tail’s surface area, but the biggest improvement was the installation of large wing flaps and a deployable landing chute to reduce landing speeds.
The Super Sabre had finally arrived and squadrons of F100Ds were soon deployed to a new war zone in South East Asia - Vietnam.
The F-100D Super Sabre's Wing Flap Control was located immediately under the aircraft’s port cockpit coaming next the the aircraft’s Throttle Controls.
For such an advanced aircraft of its time, the Wing Flap Controls were not sophisticated in the least, with just three positions available to the pilot — ‘Down,’ ‘Hold’ (or neutral) or ‘Up’. Just before touching down the pilot would slam the control arm into the ‘Down’ position and then activate the aircraft’s drogue tail chute.
With its aluminium housing, perspex position guide and fully working control arm, this F-100D Super Sabre Wing Flap Control is an exciting piece of aviation history from an aircraft that quickly became the backbone of close air-support of US troops on the ground during the Vietnam war.
When a platoon, about to be overrun by enemy forces, called for an urgent airstrike on enemy positions, it would invariably be the F-100D Super Sabre that would come screaming above the tree-line to unload its massive fire power on the attacking forces.
This F-100D Super Sabre Instrument comes complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
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